Archive for the ‘People/HR’ Category

Thursday, August 4th, 2022

Back to the Office

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Here are some random thoughts/comments for today.

A headline I read this week from The New York Times:

What Remote Work Debate? They’ve Been Back at the Office for a While. Cubicles are largely empty in downtown San Francisco and Midtown Manhattan, but workers in America’s midsize and small cities are back to their commutes.

Some CPA firms are still debating how remote they want to be. And, many small firms kept coming to the office throughout the pandemic.

Of course, progressive firms are using outsourcing so that is a form of being remote.

  • It is far better to be alone than to be in bad company.
  • George Washington

Thursday, July 28th, 2022


“Disconnect from technology and reconnect with each other.” – Rosemary Wixom

WilkinGuttenplan is a great firm. I am honored to know Ed Guttenplan personally and am always impressed with the progressive way he manages the firm.

They have been named a New Jersey Best Place to Work, Best Firms to Work For by Accounting Today, and Best of the Best Firms by Inside Public Accounting.

To cultivate a healthy work-life balance, the firm will be providing Days of Disconnect – July 29 – August 1. See the announcement below. What are you doing for your people?

To our valued clients and members of our community,

WG takes pride in cultivating a healthy work-life balance and in an effort to acknowledge the hard work and dedication exemplified by our employees, we will be providing our staff with a well-deserved break to fully disconnect and recharge. We will be closing our offices from July 29th through August 1st. We will resume regular business hours on Tuesday, August 2nd. Staff will not be available during this time, however, if an emergency occurs, please reach out to the Partner on your account.

We appreciate your ongoing support of our team and our firm and look forward to continued success together.

Thank you,


  • Work is important, but you also need to disconnect, to unplug at times, in order to be even more concentrated when you do work.
  • Massimiliano Allegri

Tuesday, July 26th, 2022

What Is Your Why?

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” – Simon Senek

Simply giving people more money and perks will not necessarily improve your employee engagement. To motivate, inspire, and retain employees, clearly define why you do what you do.

In many accounting firms, the staff believes they are there so the firm can earn more money and the partners can grant themselves larger salaries.

Sorry to state that fact, but I have heard this opinion from people in firms large and small over the many decades I have worked in the CPA profession.

The big issue for you is whether YOUR people think that is the reason your firm exists.

In reality, CPA partners, having many years of experience, believe that they are there to help people as a firm. Doctors help people. Lawyers help people. CPAs help people, too, in a way to secure financial success.

Sure they help business owners with accounting and tax, but they also act as a business coach and mentor to help the owners and their companies become more successful. Maybe to put it more concisely, CPAs help businesses survive and prosper. Maybe you should adopt the Vulcan greeting as a message to your clients, “Live long and prosper.”

Surveys tell us that people are leaving their current employers because they are questioning the purpose of their day-to-day job.

“An inspired employee comes to work lit up about what they’re doing because they feel they matter, their work matters, and the impact they’re having matters. What burns people out is when they don’t have a sense of the impact or contribution and that it matters,” says Stephen M.R. Covey, author of Trust & Inspire: How Truly Great Leaders Unleash Greatness in Others. 

Has your partner group agreed on your firm’s WHY? If not, you have some work to do because you need to figure it out and share it with your team before more people leave your firm to live long and prosper elsewhere.

  • The miracle is this - the more we share, the more we have.
  • Leonard Nimoy

Monday, July 25th, 2022

The Mystery About Compensation

“When it comes to landing a good job, many people focus on the role. Although finding the right title, position, and salary is important, there’s another consideration that matters just as much: culture.” – Adam Grant

Why is there so much mystery surrounding compensation inside accounting firms? I don’t have a good answer to this question. Probably, “because that is how we have always handled it.”

I still find CPA firms that declare their staff should not discuss compensation. Yeah, right. Times have definitely changed regarding the confidentiality of salaries. The internet took that confidentiality away.

If you think your team members don’t know, in general, what each makes, you are fooling yourself.

Be more open, and embrace transparency. You don’t have to be exactly specific. Publicize salary ranges. If you are a beginner, you will make somewhere between $XX,XXX and $XX,XXX per year. If you are a Senior the range is (fill in the blanks). Supervisor, Manager, Senior Manager, etc.

In the past, disclosing the salary was something that happened in the 2nd interview. Now, talking about salary ranges early on in the interview process is helpful to the candidate. They can decide if they want to continue the interview and 2nd interview process early on and save everybody some time.

  • There's no way I can justify my salary level, but I'm learning to live with it.
  • Drew Carey

Wednesday, July 20th, 2022

Publicize Your Benefits

“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” – Roald Dahl

I have a Google notification set to alert me about accounting firm news. I noticed that a firm in a large city earned several spotlights in the news, one from a local source, and it was picked up by Yahoo news.

The news is (and it is old news to many of us) that the firm is closing its offices at noon on Friday for the remainder of the summer.

Why is publicizing something like this a good lesson for you? Younger CPAs focused on growing their careers will read the press release and think: “I should learn more about that firm and apply for a job there.”

In your hiring ads, mention that you close on Fridays in the summer. At this point, normal activities to attract talent have worn out. Do you have a unique employee benefit? Publicize it.

  • The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.
  • W. B. Yeats

Tuesday, July 19th, 2022

Keep Your Hook In The Water

“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” – Jim Collins

When finding talent to hire for your firm, a good friend of mine and long-time CPA management consultant, Steve Ericksen, noted that he always told his CPA firm clients to “keep their hook in the water.” Sadly, Steve has passed away, but I remember and appreciate so much of what I learned from Steve.

“Keep your hook in the water” means you must make it widely known that you are looking to hire accountants. You not only have to advertise on all reputable sites but also need to talk about it openly with everyone in your business and personal circles. When talking to attorneys, bankers, and clients, mention that your firm is hiring and actively seeking qualified candidates and ask if they know of anyone.

Make it a positive statement, such as, we are growing and expanding and now have room for more people. If you know anyone who might be interested in working for a progressive, growing, future-focused accounting firm, please let me know.

You can also mention it to friends and relatives. You never know where your next qualified hire might come from.

  • Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to.
  • Richard Branson

Monday, July 18th, 2022

Remote Is Remote

“What if wages drop? What if no one is willing to pay New York City wages for people who work in Idaho?” – Suzanne Lucas 

Just some thoughts today about remote workers. Also, some questions for firm owners.

CPA firms have survived during the last couple of years by being able to utilize remote workers. Their talented accountants worked from home, and to the surprise of many partners, it worked well. Firms have had a couple of years of significantly increased profits.

Now, many firms would prefer their people to return to the office. But, many of their most talented employees do not want to.

Per an article via Inc., the Pew Research Foundation found that 61 percent of the people working from home were doing so by choice — not because there wasn’t an office to go to.

With most of your people mainly working remotely, how will you identify people for promotion? How will you identify people who deserve a larger salary increase than other employees? How will you know what kind of relationships they are able to build with clients? How will you observe their executive presence and many other characteristics you look for in your next generation of owners? Will you judge your workforce solely on their production numbers? That sounds like taking a step backward.

If you are going to have work done remotely, why not jump into the offshore outsourcing world and save a lot of money? Qualified people will prepare your tax returns (and many other tasks) for much less money. Do you begin to pay more to the people who come to the office and less to those who work remotely?

Read this article via Inc. titled – Holland to Make Remote Work the Law. This May Backfire, then think about what the future will look like for your firm.

  • Companies don't give job security. Only satisfied customers do.
  • Jack Welch

Wednesday, July 13th, 2022

Next July

“It is really a cool perk.” – Alan Sobel

I recently read that Sobel, a 190-person CPA firm in New Jersey, closed their office and gave their entire staff the week of July 4th off.

Here’s a quote from the article by Tom Bergeron:

You might be surprised – what with him serving as the managing member of an accounting firm – but Alan Sobel said he didn’t break out any spreadsheets or enter any figures into a calculator to determine just how much giving his entire staff at Sobel Co the entire week off would cost the company.

That’s not what this was about.

Yes, Sobel acknowledges it is a cool perk but it is also a way to thank their team for all their hard work. They notified clients and others of the office closing via all the social media outlets. None of their clients seemed to mind, they seemed to understand.

I have heard of a few other firms also closing the week of July 4th each year. Maybe it is something for you to consider for next year. July 4th in 2023 is on a Tuesday. You would probably close on Monday anyway. Read the entire article. It might convince you to do the same. Think about it!

  • If our doing this leads other companies to think about doing the same thing, that’s great. But that’s not why we did it. This was about saying, ‘thanks,’ to our people.
  • Alan Sobel

Tuesday, July 12th, 2022

What To Wear

“Is there anything in the world more annoyingly creepy than an unspoken dress code?” – Douglas Coupland

Remember the TV show What Not To Wear? I always enjoyed it and was often amazed at how sloppy, untidy, and inappropriate the person was “before.” They looked pretty good “after.”

You might now be facing the challenge of what to wear as you return to the office. Even if it is only for two or three days per week, your at-home work fashions, sweat pants, shorts and t-shirts probably will not do.

NPR offers some advice recently in a post titled: The pandemic has changed workplace fashion. What does that mean for you?

Check out the article and see a picture of the leaders of the Group of Seven (G-7) nations in their official group photo recently. They all ditched their ties for the photo for the first time in 40 years.

Dress codes for CPA firms have certainly relaxed over the years. Still, your team needs some guidance on what your “relaxed” dress code means. Ties and high-heels are out. Now a button-down shirt (probably with jeans) and comfortable flats are in.

  • Yes, we have a dress code. You have to dress.
  • Scott McNealy

Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

Important Survey

“Winning is something, but participation is everything.” ― Debasish Mridha

I wanted to be sure you are aware that the 2022 ConvergenceCoaching®, LLC Anytime, Anywhere Work™(ATAWW) Survey is currently open for participation. The survey seeks input on remote and flexible work practices in accounting and consulting firms across the country. ConvergenceCoaching is offering participants the summary results along with best practices and strategies to implement these programs and maintain a competitive advantage. They’re requesting only one entry per firm, so be sure you coordinate with other leaders in your organization (usually the HR leader or Managing Partner). Here is the link to participate. The survey is open through July 15th.

  • Personal participation is the universal principle of knowing.
  • Michael Polanyl